Did you know that the first boats were invented hundreds of thousands of years ago? Since that time, boats have helped humans travel and explore the world around them. And that’s just one of the many boat facts that will fascinate just about anyone.
Over the centuries, people have used boats for leisure, competition, hunting, war, and exploration. As you might have guessed, boats have a long and storied history and have played a big part in cultures all over the world. And as you learn more about them, you’re appreciation for these seafaring vessels will only grow.
Are you interested in learning more? If so, then continue reading and we’ll walk you through the most interesting boat facts that you need to know about!
1. The First Boats
The Pesse canoe is the oldest known boat to be discovered by archeologists. The boat is around three meters long and was built sometime around 8,000 BC. However, it’s believed that there were boats even older and more intricate than the Pesse canoe.
For example, rock carvings dating back to 10,000 BC have depicted reed boats that needed to be manned by twenty rowers. Still, it’s actually assumed by many archeologists that the very first boats were used by our Homo Erectus ancestors some 800,000 years ago.
This species first came into being almost two million years ago in Africa. Homo Erectus eventually migrated from Africa into Asia and Europe. While they could have walked to these areas, there are some islands that are impossible to get to other than by boat.
For hundreds of years, scientists could not wrap their heads around how primitive people could have built sophisticated enough ships to travel such long distances. Those questions were put to rest by the crew of the Kon-Tiki.
Kon-Tiki was a ship made out of balsa wood and primitive tools in 1947. The small crew then sailed from South America to the Polynesian islands, showing that long voyages with limited resources were possible.
2. Water Skiing Was Invented By an 18-Year-Old
Ralph Samuelson was only 18 years old in June of 1922. He was living in Minnesota and came up with the assumption that there was no reason why you couldn’t ski on water if you were already able to ski on snow.
In order to test out his hypothesis, Ralph put some skis on and got his brother to tow him across Lake Pepin. Then, a few days later, on July 2, Ralph realized that if he leaned back, he could successfully stay up on the skis.
Samuelson used snow skis as his first skis. But they were too heavy and he kept sinking. He then attempted to use curved wood from barrels but those were also too heavy.
He realized that he needed skis that could cover more of the water’s surface area. He then crafted two curved planks that were nine inches wide and eight feet long. Ralph then fastened a leather strap to the skis so that his foot wouldn’t fall off of them.
He also used an iron ring as a handle and attached that to one hundred feet of rope.
Interestingly enough, Ralph never patented any of his water skiing gear. Three years after his first water skiing attempts, a man by the name of Fred Waller from New York patented the very first water skis. Waller was credited as the inventor of water skiing for years but there are files at the Minnesota Historical Society which clearly show Ralph as the first.
Since that time, there have been many accessories added to the activity of water skiing. These accessories include the boat ski rack, wetsuit, ski pylon, and also pulleys.
3. Recreational Boating Is Relatively New
Considering boats have been around for nearly one million years, you’d think that people would’ve realized how much fun it could be to relax on them. However, you’d be sadly mistaken. For most of the history of boats, the vessels were really used for work purposes.
It wasn’t until the 17th century that people really started to see just how fun boats could. This all started with the royal regattas in England. In fact, Charles II is often seen as the first yachtsman.
When Charles became king, he was given a big boat and a crew as a gift. He would spend his time sailing on various rivers and building more boats.
Suddenly, it became very cool to spend your free time sailing around on a boat. Boating clubs started popping up all around Europe. And then in 1839, the first boating club in America was founded in Detroit.
Up until this time, boating was an activity that required a lot of physical strength and skill. However, a German inventor manufactured a new kind of combustion engine in the late 19th century. This engine could be used in cars as well as boats.
This development changed the history of boating thereafter. No longer did you need crews of strong men to help move your boat. Now, you just needed an engine and you were good to go.
As you might have guessed, motorboat racing came soon after this invention. The first international motorboat race was held in 1903. The winning boat topped out at a speed of just under twenty miles per hour.
Outboard motors came about around 1910. This allowed boat owners to keep the engine on the boat and they could remove it for transportation or maintenance. They were then able to reattach the engine to a different boat if they so wanted to.
This meant that boating could become more accessible to people of different economic classes.
4. The Real Meaning Behind Port and Starboard
The starboard and port side of a ship never change. This means that the orientation of the boat is irrelevant. Because of this, using terms like right and left could more easily lead to confusion on a boat.
You’d probably end up with a lot of people asking “my right or your right?”
When you look to the front of the ship, toward the bow, starboard and port refer respectively to the right and left sides.
In the earlier days of boating, boats were controlled with steering oars instead of having rudders on their centerlines. The majority of sailors were right-handed, so this meant that the steering oar was placed through or over the right side of the stern.
Sailors would call this part of the boat the steering side. In Old English, the word stéor meant “steer” and bord meant “the side of the boat.” Thus, “starboard” was born.
As boats got bigger, the steering oar also got bigger. This made it easier to tie a boat to a dock on the side that was opposite the oar.
Sailors would refer to this “loading side” as the larboard. However, they soon realized that larboard sounded too similar to starboard and could get confusing.
They ended up changing larboard to “port”. This was the side of the boat that faced the port, after all.
5. The World’s Most Expensive Yacht Is Made Out of Gold
You read that right. Named History Supreme, this superyacht is said to be the world’s most expensive yacht. It’s nearly 99 feet long and valued at a total of $4.8 billion.
The owner of the boat is a man by the name of Robert Kuok. He’s said the be the wealthiest person in Malaysia and the second wealthiest in all of Southeast Asia. He has a net worth that’s said to be around $15 billion.
Hughes himself has a reputation for turning iPhones and iPads into expensive luxury goods. He would wrap them in leather or gold and stick diamonds all over them. He once covered an iPhone 4 in hundreds of diamonds that’s now worth over $6 million.
History Supreme weighs over 220,000 pounds with a base wrapped in gold. The anchor, dining room, deck, rails, and kitchen utensils are also made out of gold.
The master bedroom and kitchen also feature plenty of platinum. There is even a wall made out of meteor stones and a statue carved out of T-Rex dinosaur bones.
Enjoying These Interesting Boat Facts
Whether you’ve been a boat aficionado for your entire life or you’re only just starting to learn about them, we can all sit back and enjoy some interesting boat facts. Hopefully, some of the facts were so captivating that they have gotten you even more interested in these incredible vessels.
Are you looking for more interesting articles? If so, make sure to check out the rest of our blog today!